A NOTE ON MINIMALISM, PART TWO.

I posted here that recently my minimalist journey has started to look a little differently than it had when I first started over a year and a half ago. Then, I wanted to be a minimal as possible – not shopping or indulging, no spending or acquiring anything tangible. It worked for a while. The initial ‘shock to the system’ and declutter was extremely beneficial. It felt like a weight was lifted, in my apartment, in my thoughts and in my bank account.

But as the weeks passed, things started to change. I didn’t notice it at first, but looking back retrospectively, I began to get harder and harder on myself. I’m a type-A Virgo… once I commit to something, this is usually how I handle it… And just like that, something that started as a positive change in my life, began to make me feel bad! I had moments of guilt when I did buy something for myself (which I even still would consider thoroughly as opposed to impulsively buying) and even felt moments of deprivation. (“XYZ is something I think I could really use/need, but I can’t buy things!”) It all became a little tiresome and pretty draining. It felt like the exact opposite of how living minimally is supposed to make you feel.

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The past two months have been a little different. I’m allowing myself grace. With this, among other things. (Remember my type-A personality, Virgo-born tendencies.) I’m hard on myself for everything. Achieving my version of perfection is really the only way I feel satisfied. But I’m no longer allowing something that is supposed to provide freedom and genuine happiness to have the opposite effect on me. So what is the solution? I think it’s shaping up to look like a deeper dive into conscious consumption and intentional living, and what that looks like for me.

And I’m starting with this:

If I have thought consciously about a purchase (kept it on my wish list and have considered it over time), I have the means to afford it, and use those means to support local, ethical and/or women-owned businesses that I believe in, then I am allowing those things to come into my life and, as Marie Kondo would say, spark joy. It’s what feels right, what makes me feel good and happy. And that’s what this whole minimalism thing is about anyway.

 

What does minimalism look like for you?

A NOTE ON MINIMALISM.

While minimalism looks different for everyone, these are my five hacks for living a more minimal life. 

1. Become conscious through education and inspiration | I can't even list all of the wonderful podcasts, blogs and YouTube videos I've come across in my search to find out more information about minimalism, conscious shopping and zero waste initiatives (they often go hand in hand). I've learned things like you eat 7 lbs of lipstick in your lifetime so chemically based formulas are definitely not ideal (thank you Follain), physical decluttering actually effects your mental health and that the average American produces over 4 lbs of trash a day. All of these things have helped me become more aware about my lifestyle. Learn more from just a few of my favorites: The MinimalistsTrash is for Tossers and The Good Trade.

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2. Think about versatility and re-usability | Consumerism has trained us to believe we need specific products for specific uses. What I'm learning to accept is that we absolutely do not. One of the biggest multi-use items we’ve added to the loft to minimize waste and excess products is mason jars. They're airtight and portable (which makes them perfect for food storage), are less toxic than plastic and can be used for all types of home uses.

3. Keep a donation bin | If you find something isn't working for you, but aren't willing to commit to ditching it, have a designated place that is out of sight to store it for a short period of time. I use a box under my bed. If after month or so I haven't reached for the items, or have forgotten what's in the box completely, I can easily get rid of it with the peace of mind knowing that I don't actually need or use those items.

4. Remember your daily added value | Practicing gratitude may sound super 'yoga guru' of me, but I've realized that if I take 30 seconds every day to recognize what I valued most during the day, almost 100% of the time it is not a tangible item. This allows me to keep my values in check: I may love a pair of shoes online but is buying them going to give my days added value or is it just going to provide a temporary thrill (and higher debt on my credit card)?

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5. Remove temptations and replace with positive influences | In general, I'm here to tell you: just cut the cord. Unsubscribe from emails from retailers that clog your inbox and tempt you to indulge in the latest sales. (Gently) disassociate yourself with people who are not helping you be your most true 'you'. Find productive ways to spend your time other than online shopping or visiting a mall. I have felt... a million times better now that the only emails coming to me are ones I truly want to read, I'm spending time with people who I can discuss meaningful topics with and I’m making 'down' time to read, get into something creative, or spend time with my family.

So-- what do you think? Can you take some small steps to make your life more minimal and more spacious for the important things?